War @ Sea: July 07 Rules Clarifications

The newest Update and Clarifications (formerly called Rules Clarifications) came out this month. We have have made them available at http://wargamingforums.com/downloads/War_at_Sea_Clarifications.pdf (the pdf requires the FREE Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the file. You can get Acrobat Reader for FREE HERE).

The new clarifications combine the old one, eliminating the need to have the old one, and introduce several major updates.

As players know subs, aircraft, and battleships are 3 of the most used, some would say overly used, models in the game. Every fleet seems to have a lot of subs, or a lot of aircraft, or a lot of battleships. These dominate the games and some would argue they unbalance it.

The new clarifications remedies that. There are roughly 3 major updates that every War at Sea gamer has to pay close attention to.

The first is the Air Attack Phase, page 2, in which 4 rules are introduced. Now, planes can only make gunnery attacks against ships IF and ONLY IF they were assigned to Strafe during the Air Mission Phase. You must state in the Air Mission Phase if you are strafing with a plane. The strafing plane gets -2 to its Armor and Vital Armor. Nor can it use its Escort special ability. Only planes assigned to strafe can use their Gunnery value in the Air Attack Phase.

This is important because now gamers cannot wait until the last minute in Air Attack and do a strafe on choice transports and destroyers as a last thought. Gamers have to what they want their Fighters to do. Protect the carrier? Escort Bombers? Or, take out enemy shipping.

Second is the Surface Attack Phase, page 2, that begins the many changes regarding torpedoes and submarines. There are many ships, especially belonging to the IJN, that have torpedoes. Now they get to use these in the Surface Attack Phase. Ships must choose whether they wish to use their Guns and Torpedoes to attack enemy ships OR to go ASW against a Submarine. They cannot do both.

Moving the ship based torpedo attacks into the Surface Attack Phase makes this a more potent option. Too often, previously, a ship would sink or be crippled in Surface Attack critically reducing its chance to let loose a salvo of torps in the Torpedo Attack Phase. The IJN thanks WoTC for this change.

What about Submarines using torps? The Torpedo Attack Phase has been renamed to the Submarine Attack Phase. Good news is subs get their own phase because they’re uber special. Downside, and its just beginning, is they can only make 1 torp attack. That’s not so bad, right? It gets worse with ASW Threat, page 3, where submarines get their fire put out.

The ASW Threat, page 3, inflicts a dastardly -1 die penalty to Submarine based Torpedo attacks (a sub can always 1 die base before Special abilities) under certain conditions. Each enemy Aircraft making an ASW attack against the Sub inflicts -1 die to the Sub when launching torps. Each enemy ship that has ASW 1+ in the same or adjacent grid to the Sub inflicts -1 die to the Sub when it launches torps. Yes, these penalties stack. OUCH!

I cannot stress enough that, and I’ll cite this word for word, “Even if a Submarine’s Torpedo attack rating is reduced to 0 or less after all penalties and bonuses are assessed, its Torpedo attack is always a minimum of 1 die.” Looks like the end of U-Boat Terror fleets.

The third major update is called Small Ship Evasion. This boosts the effectiveness of Destroyers and Torpedo Boats (yes this covers the Italian Motor Torpedo Boat and American PT Boat and any other Ship – Torpedo Boat that comes out. Destroyers and Torpedo Boats are now immune to Gunnery attacks at range 4+. This directly targets battleships like the Richelieu, Iowa, Scharnhorst, Bismark, Vittorio, Veneto, Kongo, and Yamato who will kill Destroyers at a distance to protect their subs. I’ve done it a lot but not anymore.

Also, Battleships only hit on 6 when firing at Destroyers and Torpedo Boats with their Main Batteries. This doesn’t stack so if a ship is Crippled, for example, you use the worst penalty. Yet another blow to the Battleship. Lastly, torpedoes cannot hit Torpedo Boats. The small ships, Destroyers and Torpedo Boats, are so fast and evasive it makes sense that they are hard to hit.

Some other important updates/clarifications concern How to Win and Destroyer Carriers. In addition to getting points for capturing objective markers and killing your opponent’s fleet you can now earn bonus points. I’m citing this word for word because it is ambiguous and open to interpretation. “If your opponent has no Ships left in play you get bonus points equal to the value of an objective marker in the scenario you’re playing. Ignore Torpedo Boats. They don’t count as Ships remaining in play for this victory condition.”

That’s fairly straight forward…NOT. Objective markers are worth 50 pts each. Some scenarios, all the standard ones, have 3. Some special scenarios have other quantities. So far the value of an objective marker is always 50 pts. The question is, does this rule mean you get a single 50 pt bonus? This seems most likely. OR, do you get 50 pts for each unclaimed objective marker still in play? I wager that it is the single 50 pt bonus but if that is true then the wording on the rule is poorly chosen. I mention all of this because when the April 07 clarifications were released I had a similar question regarding the wording for Destroyed Carriers. They further clarified that, taking care of the concern I raised in War @ Sea Official Rules Clarifications (see the paragraph to the left of the custom made airbase).

Speaking of Destroyed Carriers the new rule states that you can lose 1 of each Aircraft matching each of the cards stacked with the carrier. Basically, you can lose every Aircraft, still in play, based on a carrier when the carrier sinks. Roll a d6 for each plane and on a 1 it sinks too (in the end phase). If it doesn’t get destroyed it must go to another carrier or the air base in the next Air Return Phase.

WoTC did a fair job of clearing this up. I think the Advanced Rulebook was clear on this point. WoTC didn’t need to “clarify” it in the April 07 Rules Clarifications at all. In this new Clarifications all they had to say was “Please see Destroyed Carriers on page 31 of the Advanced Rules that come with a Starter Box or are free on our website.” That one sentence could have replaced the 9 lines of ink they used on page 4 of the new clarifications.

In conclusion be sure to place your planes touching what they’re strafing, or ASW when attacking a sub. Put the airplane cards next to, or under, the card for the Carrier they’re on. It may seem silly but it makes it easier to see what’s doing what and what plane belongs to what carrier.

Be sure to read, print out, and share the Rules Clarifications. In case you forgot the URL we have made the clarifications available at http://wargamingforums.com/downloads/War_at_Sea_Clarifications.pdf (the pdf requires the FREE Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the file. You can get Acrobat Reader for FREE HERE).